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“Men In Black International” Can’t Escape A Generic Feel

Going international is not a good look for the Men in Black franchise. After a trilogy focused on Will Smith’s character, the series moves on with Men in Black: International, a sequel functioning also as a bit of a reboot as well. Taking a page from the Marvel Cinematic Universe, the film pairs Chris Hemsworth with Tessa Thompson here, hoping that they can replicate their previous chemistry. Can Hemsworth and Thompson make fans forget about Smith and Josh Brolin/Tommy Lee Jones? In a word, no. This would be summer blockbuster is mediocrity personified, as generic an adventure as the big screen has seen this year. The MiB universe deserves far better than this.

For this latest installment of the Men in Black franchise, new heroes are followed. On the one hand, we have cocky Agent H (Hemsworth), a once rising star in the London branch of MiB. Then, back in New York, there’s Molly (Thompson), who has wanted to join the agency ever since she witnessed something strange as a child. Eventually convincing Agent O (Emma Thompson) to hire her, she’s re-christened Agent M and given her first assignment, which of course is across the pond. There, High T (Liam Neeson) welcomes her and suddenly she’s a part of the Men in Black. Paired with H on a routine mission gone wrong, she stumbles upon something disturbing: there’s a mole within the organization. As the two try and figure out who it might be, a pair of aliens are on a mission for a dangerous weapon that could destroy the planet. F. Gary Gray directs a script from Matt Holloway and Art Marcum, with cinematography from Stuart Dryburgh and a score from the duo of Chris Bacon and Danny Elfman. The supporting cast includes the voice of Kumail Nanjiani, along with the likes of Rebecca Ferguson, Rafe Spall, and more.

Considering the talent involved, it’s shocking how much of a bore this flick is. Nothing interesting happens, plain and simple. The concept of alien immigration is almost completely ignored in favor of a bland mystery. From occasionally dodgy CGI to repetitive action sequences, not to mention a terrible villain and a “twist” that’s telegraphed almost immediately, very little here works. Screenwriters Matt Holloway and Art Marcum, as well as director F. Gary Gray, are unable to bring anything new to the equation. The brand awareness for MiB is the only reason this film exists in the first place, and it really shows.

Chris Hemsworth and Tessa Thompson were a far more compelling pair in Thor: Ragnarok than they are here. In fact, best in show is the voice work from Kumail Nanjiani, playing a CGI sidekick. He steals the show from Thor and Valkyrie, though his supporting part is completely extraneous to the plot. Truthfully, Nanjiani seems like his alien character was added at one point to boost the comedy quotient. He gets laughs, admittedly, which is more than anyone else can say. Aside from him, the film isn’t particularly funny, the action is rote, and the story is largely nonsensical. Any of the charm found in the previous three outings has been sucked dry and is not in evidence here.

This weekend, the Men in Black series returns with somewhat of a shrug of the shoulders when Men in Black: International opens. Hemsworth fans will probably turn out, as will those with a soft spot for Men in Black, Men in Black II, and Men in Black III. However, the quality has taken a major downturn. The previous three were great, solid, and decent, respectively, while this is about as mediocre as it gets. This movie just exits your mind as soon as it enters. To call this one forgettable is to not do justice to the word. See it if you must, but with Avengers: Endgame still in theaters, there’s a better option for your Hemsworth and Thompson fix…

Men in Black: International is in theaters everywhere on Friday.

About Joey Magidson

A graduate of Stony Brook University (where he studied Cinema and Cultural Studies), resides in Brooklyn, New York. He contributes to several other film-related websites and is a member of the Broadcast Film Critics Association.

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